@robertkwendt || lead pastor
It was a part of my nightly routine with my son. Brush teeth. Change into pajamas. Pick 3 books to read.
This time we were reading about Jonah.
As could be predicted, the story focused on Jonah facing a storm, being thrown into the water, and then swallowed up in a historic rescue by the whale. With how crazy this story is, there is no wonder that the whale and the storm get so much focus. However, there is something bigger happening in the story. There is something that is so often overlooked.
Jonah was running from the grace and mercy of God. He didn't want to embrace God's love and care for the evil people of Nineveh (see Jonah 4:1-3). Jonah didn't think they deserved it. His pride was stealing him of joy. He was missing out on God's bigger plan.
Here are some real life lessons we can learn from the story of Jonah.
1. we all have our flaws.
Jonah was not perfect. He had some serious pride issues.
He had pride issues when he ran from God's plan. He had pride issues while the storm was swamping the boat. He had pride issues even after being miraculously saved by the whale (or giant fish). He had pride issues in Nineveh. In fact, the book of Jonah ends with him still angry. His pride never seems to be resolved.
Despite this, God used Jonah.
God used him to draw the sailors on the boat to Him. He used Jonah to turn the 120,000 people and even the leaders of Nineveh toward Him. He used Jonah to deliver a doomsday message so that He could ultimately show His love, mercy, and grace.
God used Jonah despite his pride, but that does not make pride okay. God still wanted to teach Jonah something. He wanted to teach him to find joy in others.
2. joy in god finds joy in others.
Jonah 4:4-5 says...
The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city."
Jonah was so angry that all he wanted to do was see the city of Nineveh be destroyed. He wanted to witness it turn to rubble.
When we are hurt by others, we are often driven to do something very similar. We withdraw. We wait and watch. We hope that the person or people who hurt us will be destroyed. We want to see God throw down judgment on others for what they have done.
In doing this we are stealing ourselves of joy. We are living a life full of anger rather than peace.
Jesus put it this way...
But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also." Luke 6:27-29a NLT
When we can find joy in others, we are able to find joy in God. We don't need to see people be destroyed, but rather we yearn to see them be loved. We don't want the worst for them, but we instead hope for the best.
3. love delights in another's story.
God says to Jonah at the end of the book...
But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” Jonah 4:11 NLT
God has a big heart. He cares about people because they are His creation. He cared about Nineveh and He cares about the rebellious people today. We should too.
In business school, I was taught that first impressions are everything. As I have journeyed through life, it has become clear that many people make judgments within seconds. Conclusions are made without even speaking a word.
However, we do not have a God of first impressions, but a God of second chances.
Like he used Jonah despite his flaws, He uses imperfect people today.
We should have the same attitude. Instead of judging a person, we should take the time to get to know them. Embrace their story and witness how God makes the impossible happen out of even some of the most hopeless of situations.
Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves." Philippians 2:3 NLT
|| challenge ||
Go and bless someone this week!
Take them to lunch. Buy them a cake. Make a spontaneous phone call. Send a message. Let me know how it goes!